News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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$2.5B California Pacific project in jeopardy
San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco risks suffering a major self-inflicted wound. If the impasse between California Pacific Medical Center and City Hall can’t be resolved, as appears likely, the entire $2.5 billion project to build a new Cathedral Hill hospital and rebuild St. Luke’s Hospital will fall apart. The ramifications of what just a few weeks ago looked like a doomsday scenario would be devastating for all major parties involved in the drama, to say nothing of residents of the Mission district and the rest of San Francisco.

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Recovery Auditor Prepayment Review Demo Still Pending
Health Leaders Media

Though the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website lists the start date as “Summer of 2012,” the delayed launch of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Recovery Auditor prepayment review demonstration has had no official announcement yet.

With temperature records being broken by the hundreds, there’s no question that summer is in full swing. So where is the launch of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Recovery Auditor prepayment review demonstration?

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Physicians Weigh In on SGR Debate
Health Leaders Media

Physicians added their voices on Wednesday to the intractable task of finding an informed solution to the sustainable growth rate. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, hosted five physician group representatives, part of a series of roundtables about Medicare payments. Previous roundtables featured former administrators of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and private payers.

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CMS to issue guidance on using Direct for lab data
Modern Healthcare

The CMS plans to issue official guidance in the form of a list of frequently asked questions on the applicability of the federally developed Direct electronic messaging protocol for use in communicating laboratory test results, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS.

The ONC made the announcement along with an e-mailed statement that an ONC-created work group had released its findings on reporting clinical lab results using Direct.

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Hospital surgery prices vary widely
Sacramento Bee

A group of public-interest researchers took on the veiled, confounding world of hospital pricing Thursday in a report that questioned why a common surgery cost $40,000 at one hospital in the Sacramento region and $17,000 at another.

Pressing for more transparency in hospital pricing, the study by the California Public Interest Research Group, a consumer watchdog organization, spotlighted wide disparities in the cost of surgeries statewide.

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Ranks of uninsured women rose 30% between 2000-10, report says
Modern Healthcare

The number of uninsured women in America rose by more than 30% between 2000 and 2010, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report that studies differences in healthcare costs for women in the U.S. and 10 other countries.

In 2010, 20% of U.S. women, or about 18.7 million females between the ages of 19 and 64, were uninsured, compared with 15%, or about 12.8 million in 2000. U.S. women reported they have problems paying medical bills at double the rate of women in other countries.

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St. Luke’s hospital should be deal breaker
San Francisco Chronicle

In an ideal world, hospitals would accept all patients, regardless of insurance type. They would provide translation for the many languages spoken in San Francisco. Hospitals would stay open as long as the community needed and would serve everyone who walked through its doors. Obviously, we don’t live in an ideal world.

Last week, information was leaked showing that California Pacific Medical Center is not as committed to renovating and operating St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission District as California Pacific would want us to think.

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Millions in health care district deals involve firms with ties to officials
The Bay Citizen

A financial review of more than 20 health care districts in California found millions of dollars in transactions involving companies and nonprofits with ties to top district officials. The findings raise questions about the adequacy of state and local scrutiny of the taxpayer-funded districts, which operate nursing homes and hospitals, distribute grants to health programs and manage their own real estate portfolios.

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Liability costs rise for long-term care: report
Modern Healthcare

Long-term-care providers are facing growing medical liability costs that are rising at about 4% annually and expected to keep climbing, according to a report from Aon Global Risk Consulting. The report found that liability costs for long-term-care providers are projected to be about $1,480 per bed this year, compared with $1,040 per bed in 2005. That figure is expected to grow to $1,540 per bed next year.

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Hospital PPI flat in June; doc-office prices slip
Modern Healthcare

Wholesale prices for acute-care hospital services were flat in June after a 0.2% increase the prior month, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index. For June 2011, acute-care wholesale prices climbed 0.1%. During the 12-month period ended in June, the index for acute-care prices increased 2.2% compared with a 2.1% gain the prior year.

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Sutter Health closes Natomas office temporarily for safety reasons
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health has temporarily closed its medical office in Natomas for safety reasons. Medical staff in the Centerpointe at Natomas Crossing business park at 2210 Del Paso Road first noticed fallen ceiling tiles and new cracks in the wall June 20. It got worse over the following weekend, so a decision was made June 25 to vacate the building.

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Rural Clinics Hope DHCS Email Will Turn Tide in Medi-Cal Benefits Lawsuit
California Healthline

The Department of Health Care Services has been accused of withholding information in a court case — information that has the potential to change the reimbursement status of rural health centers and federally qualified health centers in California, according to court documents filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit by the California Association of Rural Health Clinics.

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No-Cost Clinic Faces Hard Times, Uncertain Future
California Healthline

Mark Thimmes has been coming to Al Shifa Free Clinic in this small community near San Bernardino for more than a year for treatment of heart disease and diabetes. Unable to afford health insurance after losing his house and business — a transmission shop in Menifee — Thimmes, 57, was referred to the clinic by a doctor who had seen Thimmes after he delayed getting treatment for a heart attack. If the clinic didn’t exist, “I wouldn’t have anywhere to go,” Thimmes said.

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HHS among agencies meeting cloud computing goals: audit
Modern Healthcare

HHS is among five of seven recently audited federal agencies that are meeting goals the federal government established in its push toward broad use of cloud computing, an audit found.

The Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress, tracked the executive branch’s progress toward the adoption of cloud computing through a review of the progress of the seven randomly selected agencies.

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Expensive errors plague state hospital bond program, auditor says
Los Angeles Times

A state agency responsible for $1.7 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals has made costly mistakes in deciding when to sell bonds, the state auditor found in a report Thursday. The California Health Facilities Financing Authority oversees the selling of bonds approved by state voters in 2004 and 2008 to build and improve children’s hospitals.

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